Openers Ruturaj (75) and du Plessis (56) star in chase of 172-run target as Chennai goes No. 1; Pandey top-scores for Hyderabad with 61
Chennai Super Kings openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis powered their team to the top of the table with a calculated onslaught. The clinical CSK chased down Sunrisers Hyderabad’s 171 by seven wickets in the IPL clash at New Delhi’s Feroze Shah Kotla ground on Wednesday.
Ruturaj, who made a delightful 75 of footwork and timing, and du Plessis (56), raised 129 in 13 overs on a good batting surface to snuff out Sunrisers’ challenge. He got to his front foot for the silken drives and when the bowler pitched a little short, picked runs off his back foot with cuts and pulls.
Footwork is Ruturaj’s ally. And he forces bowlers to alter length. The natural grace and rhythm in his batting is hard to miss.
With exemplary hand-eye coordination, du Plessis struck the ball past cover and point, and then powered the ball through mid-off as Khaleel Ahmed and Siddarth Kaul came in for punishment. When left-arm spinner J. Suchith came on, he sashayed down for a six over long-on. Both opened up the field at will. Ruturaj, using the crease beautifully, pulled Rashid Khan nonchalantly.
However, the skilful Rashid did consume Ruturaj with a quickish leg-spinner, had Moeen Ali taken in the deep and trapped du Plessis leg-before with a googly. It was not enough for SRH.
Earlier, it was Kane Williamson, light on his feet and heavy with his strokes, who fired SRH to a combative score with a barrage of shots in the end. It was a captivating cameo (26 off 10) but he should have come in earlier.
A six over cover point — the stroke encapsulated Williamson’s footwork, still head, balance and timing — off Shardul Thakur was the pick. And Kedar Jadhav ended the innings with a clubbed last ball six over square-leg off Sam Curran.
The backbone of the Sunrisers innings, after David Warner chose to bat, was the 106-run second-wicket partnership between the left-right combination of a struggling Warner (57 off 55) and a relatively more enterprising Manish Pandey (61 off 46).
Warner’s bat-speed is his strength. Although a muscular hitter of the ball, the southpaw is not without footwork. Yet this was a night when he could not find momentum save for the odd hefty blow. CSK bowled tight and fielded capably. The swift du Plessis conjured an electric moment when he dived at wide long-on after Pandey heaved Lungi Ngidi. Then he took the night flight with the willow with Ruturaj.